After our sunrise excursion yesterday we decided to let ourselves sleep as long as we wanted. We spent the morning shopping for handicrafts and taking care of various other things.
After lunch we called up our tuk tuk driver and set off to the temples one last time. We started with one called Preah Khan which is just north of Angkor Thom. It is in much worse shape than the others, with large piles of rubble, and whole rooms that are inaccessible. The parts that are still standing however have some beautiful carvings.
After Preah Khan it was finally time for the big one, Angkor Wat itself. By saving the biggest for last I think I kind of hyped it up for myself so I had very high expectations. After three days of seeing temple ruins some of the excitement I felt on the first day had also gone away. With these factors combined I wasn’t quite as excited to see it as I thought I would be. If I try to be objective though, I will say that Angkor Wat is extremely impressive and very well preserved. One really interesting thing is the picture galleries on the sides. These hundred (or more) meter long corridors are covered in bas reliefs depicting battles, religious scenes and scenes from the life of the king.
When got in to the temple proper we climbed the stairs up to one of the the upper levels were we got a bit of a nasty surprise, a massive queue for going up to the main stupa. Well, we couldn’t come all the way to the most famous temple ruins in south east Asia and skip the central shrine, now could we? Luckily the line moved quickly and after only 25 minutes or so we were up. The main stupa is very impressive, tall, steep and littered with statues.
It was already five o’clock when we got down so we didn’t really have time for more exploration. Instead we made our way out, found our tuk tuk then went back to the hotel.
On a side note, I can really recommend our tuk tuk driver, Song. He is a really nice guy and has what I think are pretty reasonable prices. To contact him call 093290931 (Cambodian phone line).
To sum up our three days in Angkor we’ve had a great time. The area is so full of temples you can hardly turn a corner without finding some place to explore, each more beautiful than the last. Now however, I’m templed out and I will need a few days of something else before seeing another temple.
If you have the time you could stay in Siem Reap for a week and still not see all the temples in the area. I think however that that would be a bit too much. I will say that it is possible to see the principal temple ruins in just one day. However, you will be in a bit of a rush which I think would spoil some of the fun. If you have two days you can take it a bit easier or you can cram stuff in to see as much as possible. Three days is a good balance because it allows you to relax and still see a lot.